We didn’t mean to change everything, but we did. The website is new. The paper is longer. Hell, even the ink is different. So much has changed that in summing up our goals and our mission for this coming year, I’m clueless. We are in flux — just like every other media outlet that is trying to keep up with the trends. More and more people choose to consume media in nontraditional ways. All past ideas and presumptions about our audience are made irrelevant when a Facebook feed or Tumblr blog is their main news source. Our homepage, however fun and interactive we make it, is
no longer a place people visit naturally; links from social media provide more and more page views than the homepage. Meanwhile, print readership is trending downward for every newspaper, which is tragic given that print still provides the greatest amount of revenue. All in all, nobody in the media industry knows what they are doing. It sounds terrifying, but thankfully, it’s also fantastic.
So much is changing that creativity has become the norm. In just one year, we at the Collegian were able to try a new website, completely redesign the paper and restructure our entire newsroom and print operation just to see what sticks. And yes, it is terrifying. This year is a historic year for the Collegian. We are cutting back on our printing days. We will print four days out of the week with the option to print special editions on Friday. Besides that, all of the editors and reporters are going digital. Like the separation of church and state, we are separating print and online. All our content producers are writing and shooting photo and video with a digital mindset. What they write is then taken by a separate print team that decides what is best for the print product. This means we can focus on visuals for the paper and online engagement for the website.
To be honest, I have only an educated guess as to whether this will work or not. But that’s not important. Staying relevant is important. As a news outlet, we have to actively reach out to our readers. It used to be the other way around. We could print a newspaper and people would read it because there was no other option. But now, if we don’t intentionally put our stories in front of a student’s face, that is a reader who may not even know we exist.
Whether it is with video, words or photo, we work for media because we are storytellers who care about informing the masses. But that job proves difficult when your audience is bombarded by a vast variety of Internet entertainment instead of the news at their campus. I like to think students do have passionate opinions and care greatly about issues on campus, and my hope is that Rocky Mountain Student Media can be the place where those opinions are expressed and issues discussed. As fellow students, we will try our best to offer you the stories that affect you. That doesn’t mean just the SOURCE articles produced by CSU PR sent to your email. We will cover the stories the University doesn’t want covered because you deserve to know what’s happening at CSU. This year, we have established an enterprise and investigative team to find and cover the stories that would otherwise go unnoticed.
However, even if we have the best stories and most interesting videos, it means nothing if we don’t have an audience to engage with. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and if you see it, pick up the paper —even if it’s just for the crossword.
Collegian Executive Editor Skyler Leonard can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @skyler_leonard.